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Monday, August 13, 2012

Bulk oil Tanker collides with US Missile destroyer at Strait of Hormuz

This vessel was in news earlier in Oct 2007 when it attacked and sank two pirate skiffs off Somalia after receiving a distress call from the tanker MV Golden Nori which was under attack from pirates.  Now and other sources reveal that this U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer was involved in a collision with  a large Japanese-owned merchant vessel near the Strait of Hormuz on 12th Aug 2012 and none were reportedly injured. 

This being a very strategic passage, Iran had threatened to block passage in this strait in retaliation for sanctions targeting the country’s nuclear program. The U.S. Navy has said it would move to stop any Iranian attempt block the waterway.

The Strait of Hormuz  is a strait between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. It is the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and is one of the world's most strategically-important choke points. On the north coast is Iran, and on the south coast is the United Arab Emirates. At its narrowest, the strait is 21 nautical miles (39 km) wide.  It is stated that approximately 20% of the world's petroleum (about 35% of the petroleum traded by sea) passes through the strait.

Since it is a narrow stretch, ships moving through the Strait follow a Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS), which separates inbound from outbound traffic to reduce the risk of collision. To traverse the Strait, ships pass through the territorial waters of Iran and Oman under the transit passage provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

It is revealed that the collision between US Navy guided missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) and the Panamanian-flagged bulk oil tanker M/V Otowasan occurred at about 1 a.m. local time, on 12th Aug 12. The collision was not combat-related and overall damage to the ship is being evaluated,  USS Porter is on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

Reports suggest that the tanker, owned by Tokyo-based Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd.  can hold 2 million barrels of crude oil and is 95 percent full. The vessel  is reported to have loaded at Mesaieed in Qatar and was sailing to Fujairah.  No personnel on either vessel were injured. The Navy vessel suffered a gaping hold on its left  -  a breach about 10 feet by 10 feet (three by three meters) in the starboard side of USS Porter.  

The cause of the incident is under investigation, the Navy said, though the collision was not "combat related." There were no reports of spills or leakages from either the USS Porter or the Otowasan, the Navy is quoted as saying.   Navy spokesman Greg Raelson said the destroyer now is in port in Jebel Ali, Dubai. "We're just happy there were no injuries," he said. "

Tensions in the Strait of Hormuz show no sign of abating. The United States stoked the flames recently with an announcement that it will send US Navy minesweepers and warships into the Gulf for exercises.  This is part of a Pentagon buildup in the Gulf with more troops and naval firepower, seeking to rattle Iran and reassure Saudi Arabia and Washington's other Gulf Arab partners worried about Iran's influence and power.   Iranian commanders and political leaders have stepped up threats and defiant statements in recent weeks over the Strait of Hormuz.

Following their policy on Naming of vessels, the destroyer USS Porter (DDG-78)  is named after Commodore David Porter, and his son, Admiral David Dixon Porter.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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